Forget Your Funnel
By Daniel Murray
Today’s guest is a bada**, so I am STOKED for you to meet her.
Marketing Bestie, let me introduce you to Claire Suellentrop.
Co-founder of product Marketing firm, Forget The Funnel, Claire specializes in helping businesses go from piecemeal marketing tactics to repeatable, scalable growth.
Let’s hear what she had to say about perfecting your funnel on The Marketing Millennials Podcast, in her own liiightly edited words.
1. Forget the Funnel:
“It’s oversimplifying to assume that everyone buys into your typical, 3 phases of a funnel, awareness, consideration, and purchase.
That shoves buying decisions into 3 super generic stages that may not be relevant depending on what product is being sold, or whether it’s a business versus a consumer decision (OUUU).
So what should companies do instead? Your customer base is probably quite diverse, people with lots of different job titles, and spread across different regions.
Sit down and get super clear with all of your customers.
Identify who your super ideal customer is, the 10 customers that you wish you could clone.
Who are those really best people? They’re who we want to be learning from and acquiring more of.
Once you’ve gotten clear on who those folks are, then figure out, before they ever knew about your product, why they woke up one day and were like “I need a new thing.”
From there, if you can uncover what the buying process looked like for those best people, you can reverse engineer KPIs and funnel stages that match up with that ideal customer’s journey.
Then you can go find more folks like them and convert more of them in a meaningful way.
2. When to update your funnel concept:
When is the right time to move on from your traditional funnel and metrics?
One common scenario is when there’s been a significant change in the competitive landscape.
Covid hit and totally changed how people made purchases. Every business was wary of their budget (extreeeemely wary).
Businesses cut all their software expenses they didn’t absolutely need. Forcing hundreds of businesses to rethink who they were targeting and who their best customer was now, because they were losing who they thought were their best customers.
How your brand responds to that type of market shift will give you a good indicator of if your brand needs to rethink its current funnel.
Another good indicator that it’s time to revisit your funnel concept is if your product has evolved significantly. Can your product help customers do more or different things than it used to?
A good example of that are the intercoms out in the world that are incredibly robust platforms.
They didn’t start necessarily quite that robust, but over time they became capable of doing more things. Ultimately who gets value from them has changed.
So if your product has evolved, if there’s been a shift in the market, or if you notice that people you don’t know a whole lot about have been coming to your product and signing up, that’s when you need to look into updating your funnel concept.
3. Benefits of rethinking your funnel concept:
As a marketer or a marketing team, you are incentivized to drive volume, but you’re not accountable to or you’re not working with other departments to track how well those folks are converting and staying engaged.
You might be driving a bunch of junk traffic, which isn’t helpful to anyone (THISSS).
That just creates more difficulty down the line for customer success.
The other thing that’s helpful about rethinking your funnel concept is partnering with other departments.
If Marketing can pull off a project like a website optimization experiment that’s fueled by customer insight, there’s an opportunity to work with the product team.
Share with them how you learned a lot about those customers and how good of a fit they were for you.
Partner on reworking your onboarding emails because you might see a couple of ways that you can convert more of them to paid.
Rethinking your funnel concept helps break down the silos between Marketing, product, and CS.
4. Crushing customer research:
Doing customer research well can be tricky if it’s something that your team is new to.
The questions that you ask should be very much about uncovering what happened in your customer’s life.
Not asking what their opinion is and not asking future looking questions that would gauge interest on potential features.
The whole goal is to get as much of a sense of what their buying experience looked like in the wild, so that you can then find the commonalities between how all of your best customers buy.
Some specific questions are:
Before you’d ever even heard of us, what were you using? Were you using anything else, or were you doing nothing?
Was this a new need that came about? What happened that made you realize that whatever you were using wasn’t working anymore?
Then from there ask how they looked for a new product. Did they ask colleagues? Did they Google it?
How did they go about trying to find a new solution? And then when they found you, what stood out that made you ready to put in your email and sign up?
(This process is SO helpful.)
You can see as I ask those questions, I’m trying to uncover the step by step.
I’m not asking things like, what do you think of this feature or anything that invites opinion. You want to find as much of the facts of their buying process as possible.
5. A Marketing hill to die on:
Qualitative research is underused, underestimated, and often done wrong (RETWEEEETTT).
It’s not even considered data half the time.
When people think of data, it’s only quantitative numbers. They forget about interviews of customers, like what are customers actually saying in the wild?
There’s absolutely value in data. There’s value in numbers.
But what your data is telling you is what people do and don’t do, but you still have no idea why they do what they do.”